Food and Drink in Koh Samui
Seafood is plentiful and is a top choice for dining on Koh Samui, whether it's grilled, steamed, fried or served in a curry. Steamed whole fish is often prepared with garlic and ginger, while curries can turn up the heat with fiery peppers. Most restaurants know that farangs (foreigners) like things a bit less spicy, though. Thai basil and lemongrass are other accents you'll encounter in the local cuisine.
Thais eat with a spoon in one hand and a fork in the other, using the spoon to lift food to their mouths. No need to master chopsticks!
Street food vendors set up carts south of the pier in a large parking lot next to the water. Noodle dishes, grilled fish, skewers of meat, larb (a salad of minced meat or fish) and green papaya salad are typical offerings, at rock-bottom prices. As always, be very cautious about hygiene when eating from street vendors. (We always look for carts with a long line of locals.) There are also roving food vendors on the beaches, and carts in the vicinity of other attractions, including the Big Buddha and Na Muang Falls.
While you'll find the usual mixed drinks most anywhere, Singha beer is Thailand's preferred brew, and one (or five) is a great way to stay cool in Samui's heat. Nonalcoholic fruit shakes (usually made with fruit, ice and sugar syrup) are also an island specialty; our favorite is mango.
The Sunset: Located about a 10-minute walk south of the pier, this restaurant has outdoor tables under shady trees and pergolas with a view of the water. Follow the harbor road (Chonwithi Road) until it makes a 90-degree turn inland, and you're at the restaurant. The menu has both Thai and Western dishes, with seafood playing a starring role. We had a savory mackerel curry, but there's a wide choice of Thai favorites, including pad thai and larb. Ingredients are fresh, portions are abundant, and there are nice touches such as orchids that grace the drinks. (175/3, Moo 3, Tambon Angthong; +66-77-421-244.)
Kob Thai Restaurant: The ambience at this restaurant near Lamai Beach in a gorgeous garden setting can't be beat. The restaurant serves authentic Thai cuisine. Order a special set tasting menu or several a la carte dishes. The sweet and sour pork shouldn't be missed nor should the mango and sticky rice dessert. (Soi Haad Lamai 3; open daily, noon to 10:30 pm.)
Pla Pla: A quick 15-minute drive from the pier, this restaurant in the Four Seasons Resort is perfect for those who want a splurge meal in a gorgeous, serene setting. The restaurant has both terrace and beach dining on the resort's private swath of sand, with a menu offering a range of dishes, including Thai, European and even pizzas and burgers. Thai specialties include seafood coconut soup (kati talay), deep-fried fish with sweet chili sauce (pla tord) and grilled calamari salad. If you don't want to haggle with shore-side taxis, the hotel will send a limo or a taxi to fetch you. (219 Moo 5, Angthong; open daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; +66-77-243-000)
Le Salon de Ti: Lunch and dinner are served daily, and afternoon tea is offered on Saturdays and Sundays, at this restaurant in the Zazen Boutique Resort. (177 Moo 1)